Five Nights at Freddy’s (2014) | History of Horror


Pierce Turner

Welcome to Spinnaker’s History of Horror. Here we will be taking a look back at everything spooky in both film and video games and analyze how horror has evolved over the last century. Check back at every day for a new installment

My long standing fear of animatronic mascots has been well documented. Any time I went to a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese’s, I would always end up at the front row and be face to face with the titular character and his band of psychopathic robots.

I cried every time.

Some might classify me as being a big baby, but I find it highly logical. Which is why I’m not embarrassed that “Five Nights at Freddy’s” makes me curl up in a ball, stick my thumb in my mouth, and ask for forgiveness.

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You’ve probably heart of “FNAF”. It was a 2014 indie game that spawned four sequels, two books, an exorbitant amount of merchandise, and an in-production movie. To say it blew up is like saying a few people like Hamilton.

You play as a security guard charged with keeping order in a Chuck E. Cheese-like restaurant, complete with singing robots and pizza. Also you get the night shift. Also the power is very limited. Also the scary animatronic characters want to kill you. Indeed, Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza is probably the worst place to work, and we get the pleasure of simulating that job.

That game is simple, like, really simple. The animatronics are trying to get into the security office. There’s two doors you can close, lights you can use to check the area right outside the office, and security cameras you can view to find where they are in the restaurant. These actions cost power, and when the power runs out, all of the lights turn off and the doors open. When one of the creatures gets inside, you are instantly killed when one of them comes in and says boogity woogity woo.

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This game accomplished more with static scenes and simple mechanics than most big budget horror games can dream of. Cycling through the security cameras and seeing these characters getting closer and closer is nerve busting. They aren’t over-designed either. They really look like they belong in an old animatronic band, which makes them naturally scary.

There are four sequels, all adding new mechanics and new animatronic characters to fear. My favorite is the original, but the third one is close behind. One of the main reasons these games have such a cult following is the lore. Such a simple premise holds a deep backstory that can be uncovered through clues, mini-games, and secret levels. The story spiraled out of control around the fourth game it’s still spooky and worth looking into.

Even if you aren’t a big baby when it comes to robot mascots, you will probably need a change of clothes when you play these games. They’re so draining that you actually might need to take a break every once in awhile, despite their short lengths. FNAF goes a long way in showing that a good art direction and clever atmosphere make for truly horrifying experiences. I recommend actually playing them for yourself, instead of watching someone else do it on YouTube. Trust me, “What could go wrong?”

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